Skip to main content

Desert Island Discs

“The devil has the best tunes”

David Levenson/Getty

When Brian Cox was younger, he tells Lauren Laverne on a 2020 episode of Desert Island Discs, he worried about why he was always cast as “nasty” characters. But after bagging the part of billionaire patriarch Logan Roy in Succession, he has learned to embrace it. After all, “the devil has the best tunes”. Logan and I “both have one thing in common”, Cox says. “We find the human experiment rather disappointing.” His only gripe with the role is that whenever he goes out, he is mobbed by fans asking if they can video him “telling them to f*** off”.

Cox’s success is rooted in tragedy. He had a “blissful” early childhood, putting on shows for his family and imitating 1920s entertainer Al Jolson. But when he was eight, his father died within three weeks of being diagnosed with cancer, and his mother had a nervous breakdown. He has been in “survival mode” ever since. He was mentored by his English teacher, who got him a job mopping the stage at the Dundee Repertory Theatre when he left school at 14. After years as “the worst stage manager there’s ever been”, he graduated to the stage. By 21, he was on the West End; just over a decade later he had scooped two Olivier Awards.

🎵 Bridge Over Troubled Water, Johnny Cash
🎵 Saturday Night at the Movies, The Drifters
🎵 The Air That I Breathe, KD Lang
🎵 Get Back, The Beatles
🎵 La quête, Jacques Brel
🎵 Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell
🎵 God Only Knows, The Beach Boys
🎵 Don’t Get Me Wrong, The Pretenders

📕 In Search of the Miraculous, PD Ouspensky
🎁 A sewing kit